Cheesed off! What happened when Domino's tried to sell pizzas to Italians?

Pineapple on pizza has no takers in Italy. American fast food giant Domino's is shutting shop in the country after seven years of trying to sell pizzas there

FP Explainers August 11, 2022 18:56:27 IST
Cheesed off! What happened when Domino's tried to sell pizzas to Italians?

Representational image. Pixabay

What’s the sort of pizzas that the Italians enjoy? Definitely not the ones conjured up at Domino’s.

The American fast food chain debuted in the land of pizzas seven years ago. But it failed to impress the Italians who love their food and are especially sensitive about their pizzas.

Now, Domino’s Pizza has finally given up and decided to pull out of the European nation. Sad for the pizza giant. But not so much for the Italians. In fact, they were thrilled.

The news of Domino’s withdrawal from Italy was celebrated by some social media users, reports BBC.

Were their pizzas that bad? We take a look.

So, what happened?

The chronological chain of events went something like this:

In 2015, Domino’s entered the Italian market through a franchising agreement with ePizza SpA. It then planned to offer a structured national delivery service in Italy along with introducing new American-style toppings like pineapple on pizza.

The first store of Domino’s was opened in Milan before it ventured into other cities like Turin, Bologna, Parma and Rome. It however never made it to Naples, the home to Margherita pizza.

Gino Sorbillo, owner of a pizzeria in Naples told The Guardian, “It would have been very strange if [Domino’s] had worked here. Naples is a very particular market – it wins on tradition, identity … it wouldn’t have worked if the only goal was to make money.”

The company had borrowed heavily to open 880 stores across the nation by 2030. However, as soon as the pandemic hit, Domino’s faced tough competition from traditional pizza makers who ramped up their deliveries or signed deals with third-party services to reach customers during the lockdown.

And so, as it turned out, Domino’s couldn’t handle the tough competition from local restaurants. In April this year, the franchise holder ePizza filed for bankruptcy and all Domino’s outlets stopped delivery services on 20 April, according to food website Agrodolce.

By 20 July, the company stopped its operations in all Domino’s stores, according to CNN Business.

Now, the last of Domino’s 29 branches have closed, marking the end of its short stint in Italy.

How has the company responded?

US and Italian representatives of Domino’s and ePizza haven’t commented on the development.

However, according to Business Standard, ePizza said, “We attribute the issue to the significantly increased level of competition in the food delivery market with both organised chains and ‘mom & pop’ restaurants delivering food, to service and restaurants reopening post-pandemic and consumers out and about with revenge spending,” in a report to its investors in 2021.

How are people responding?

To netizens, the Domino’s shut down in Italy is not shocking.

Journalist Dave Jamieson tweeted, “I’ve always wondered how Dominos could survive in New Jersey, let alone Italy.”

Sarah Muller, deputy managing editor at Bloomberg said, “Domino’s Pizza couldn’t survive in Italy, shocking no one.”

Also, according to BBC, many locals said that Italian pizzas are far better than what Domino’s used to serve.

Have other US fast food chains worked in Italy?

No really. When a Virginia-based burger chain made its debut in Italy’s Milan in 2018, it was met with a rough review from food blog Dissapore, which called its burgers overcooked and its fries too salty, according to a report by Fortune.

In the year 2000, The Guardian reported that thousands of demonstrators had declared a war on McDonald’s, branding hamburgers as a symbol of “Americanisation”. Protestors in Milan flung raw meat in the air chanting “Better a day of tortellini than 100 days of hamburgers.”

With inputs from agencies

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